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Host equals Athens haul

China`s Sheng Yuhong (No 12) strikes during the women`s sitting volleyball final against USA. The host won 25-14, 25-19, 25-15. [Xinhua]

China on Sunday equaled its record haul of 63 gold in Athens, with its Beijing tally including 54 silver and 42 bronze. Britain was a distant second with 41-23-26.

The host also claimed its 200th gold medal since joining Paralympic competition in 1984 when Liu Lei powered to victory in men`s 75kg powerlifting.

China`s historic 200-gold mark was reached when Liu, who uses a wheelchair, beat a field of 11 competitors with a lift of 225kg in his last attempt. Iran`s Majid Farzin failed to lift 227.5kg in his third attempt and had to settle for silver with 212.5kg.

"Today my dream came true," said the 21-year-old Liu. "My QQ (online messaging service in China) name is `Realizing my dream in 2008` and today I made it."

Meanwhile, South African star swimmer Natalie du Toit won her fifth gold of the Games to become the most crowned Paralympian in Beijing.

Also, Chinese Taipei celebrated its first gold medal of the Games with Lin Tzu-hui`s win in the powerlifting women`s 75kg division.

Track and field athletes again provided the impetus to China`s gold rush, notching up six victories to raise their gold total to 29.

Zhang Lixin became the leading Chinese medalist when he added the 200m and 4x400m titles to gold in 400m and 4x100m in his class.

Compatriot Guo Wei was just one gold short of Zhang`s tally after taking the men`s shot put F35-36. He won the javelin and discus throw last week.

Cheng Changjie earned a rare gold for China in archery, while Ye Ruyi and Hu Daoliang added two wheelchair fencing gold for the hosts.

Elsewhere, the Chinese sitting volleyball team successfully retained its crown after thrashing the United States 3-0 in the final, and the Chinese men`s goalball team defeated Lituania to grab the title.

Du Toit, following her triumph in 100m butterfly, 100m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m freestyle, clocked the fastest time of 29.20 sec in the 50m freestyle final last night, just 0.13 ahead of Russia`s Irina Grazhdanova.

"I`m just very relieved at the moment. This was probably my toughest race," said the 24-year-old South African, one of only two Paralympians who also took part in the Beijing Olympics.

"To come out and actually achieve the five gold I set out for is a big accomplishment. It`s been an emotional time for me, so I`m relieved," she added.

Erin Popovich of the United States just missed out on matching du Toit, placing second in the 50m freestyle in her class.

In road cycling, South Africa, Switzerland, Belarus and Poland each won a gold medal on the final day of events, leaving Britain at the top of the gold tally with five. Spain, Germany and the United States had three apiece.

Over seven days of competition, China failed to win a single gold and bagged just one bronze in 23 road cycling events to go with the three silver and three bronze won from 21 track events.

Date:2008-9-15 9:56:00     
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